Godless goals are progressive goals

Rebecca Watson is stirring up trouble again. She points out the dire situation for women in this country.

In the first quarter of this year, 49 state legislatures introduced 916 bills that restricted reproductive rights. Here are a few that have passed, like in Texas, where women must have an invasive ultrasound that they either have to look at or have described to them in detail by a doctor before getting their abortion. Or South Dakota, where there’s now a 72-hour waiting period, and women must get counseling at an anti-choice pregnancy crisis center before obtaining an abortion. No centers applied to be on the official list, so that women would have no way to fulfill the requirements to have an abortion.

Yikes. But that’s not the trouble-making, that’s just basic civic responsibility and human decency. Here is the trouble-making.

The Religious Right’s attack on women’s rights is directly analogous to their attack on science in the classroom, so why aren’t non-believers standing up and fighting back? Why aren’t more of the big secular organizations decrying what’s happening?

Some organizations, like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Humanist Association have called out some of the problems, though both could take a page from the British Humanist Association, which regularly and boldly confronts anti-science when it infringes upon women’s reproductive health. BHA’s website even describes in detail its official stance on abortion (pro-choice, of course).

Hmmm. All the big shots in the secular organizations I’ve met seem like rather progressive individuals who would agree entirely with Watson’s position, and I’ve seen some published statements here and there that support such liberal (i.e., rational) causes as women’s rights and gay rights and equality in general, but otherwise, these particular civil rights issues seem more assumed than advocated by the major organizations — they certainly don’t oppose them. I can understand how a non-profit might have to tread carefully on political claims (they can’t come out and damn the Republican party, after all), but Watson has a point.

Maybe there should be more overt activism for civil rights in general, in addition to the more focused attention given to atheist/humanist issues. Freethought movements should be about human dignity and freedom in all domains, not just religion. We should own these issues; we need to be on the right side of history. And on the purely self-interested side, these organizations can also grow their base by embracing greater equality. Let’s be the opposite of Jim Wallis and the Sojourners (who I could never stand, anyway).

Of course, such a move would piss off the libertarian/conservative wing of the atheist movement, but I can’t see a down side to jettisoning them, anyway.